The official story

This is the official story behind the first Walk of Fame created in Britain: from a moment of inspiration on Hollywood Boulevard to a bricks and mortar monument to Brighton’s celebrity community. It tells of the people who made it happen, and the organisations that contributed to its success.  The Walk of Fame was the brainchild of  David Courtney, the local boy made good who has realised his ambition of building a lasting tribute to a unique and very special city that he is proud to call home.

The original idea
David Courtney first had the idea to transplant a very American institution to the seaside town of Brighton in 1979 when he was living and working in Los Angeles riding high on the success of his songwriting partnership with ’70s singing and television star Leo Sayer. Together they had penned a string of international hits and their success had taken them to California to live and work. It would be over 20 years before this moment of inspiration was translated into Brighton’s most exciting and glamorous attraction.

Who should be included?
During the intervening years David researched Brighton’s celebrity community, past and present. There were obvious candidates – George IV, Max Miller, in his time the most famous comedian in England; Winston Churchill, Britain’s great war-time leader who went to prep school in Hove. He also uncovered surprising and unusual connections. One of the first was Imran Khan who, aside from captaining Pakistan to victory in the 1992 world cup, played some of his best county cricket in Hove for the Sussex county side.

Bridging the creative and cultural spectrum
It soon became clear that a Brighton Walk of Fame could develop its own identity and celebrate people from across the creative and cultural spectrum. Limiting the Brighton Walk of Fame to movie people or even to the entertainment industry would exclude some of Brighton’s most significant figures: inventors like Magnus Volk who created the world’s first public electric railway and authors suchas Graham Greene who wrote the most famousBrighton book, Brighton Rock .

The nomination process
The Hollywood system for getting a celebrity on to the Walk of Fame has always been the same. Stars are nominated by the public and the nominations are judged by a panel of influential entertainment industry people David wanted to turn the process on its head. The first names for the Brighton Walk of Famewould be voted for by the people of Brighton & Hove. He enlisted the help of the two most influential media organisations in the town and mounted the first Walk of Fame voting campaign. A list of potential names was published in The Argus and was also promoted on the air waves by Southern FM. The public were invited to call the voting line and choose their favourites.

The first 100 names
The campaign ran for a month and at the end the first 100 names to be inducted were chosen. The Brighton system demonstrates the philosophy behind the attraction. “I always wanted the Brighton Walk of Fame to be for the people of Brighton & Hove,” David states. “This was always my main motivation. Money didn’t come into it. There isn’t some cliquey elite deciding who should be honoured. The fact that the public have put them there means more than anything else.”

Growth and development
The Brighton Walk of Fame has continued to develop and grow since that special night. A plaque has been laid at Brighton Station to commemorate the Brighton Belle, a great train remembered by many with affection. It was used by Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright as they commuted to the Royal National Theatre in London. Lord Olivier even ate his daily breakfast of kippers on the train and it is now part of the world-famous Orient Express. The Brighton Belle was inaugurated onto the walk at a special ceremony on 14th January 2003.

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